Tens of thousands of cyclists, runners, skaters, strollers, little kids, scooters, dogs, and people on those weird one-wheel board things took over nearly seven miles of prime—and car-free—NYC boulevards on Saturday for the first of three Summer Streets no-car celebrations. It’s the eleventh year that the Department of Transportation has hosted the event, and it’s grown so popular, and makes everyone so happy, that it’s amazing they don’t do this all weekend, every weekend, all year round.
In addition to just the sheer joy these car-free streets bring, there are plenty of other activities to keep people engaged at various rest stops along the way. The 165-foot long, 30-foot high zip line at Foley Square had a 90-minute wait as early as 9:00 a.m. (it’s a slow process, getting people into up the stairs and into their harness, then waiting while they get up the nerve to jump) The group yoga drew a large crowd as well, though they didn't appear to set the record for most people doing a handstand simultaneously (they needed at least 251).
Other stops had musical performances, corporate-sponsored giveaways, free bike helmets, and Vision Zero safety information, most of which targeted pedestrian and cyclist behavior. Citi Bike was a huge presence this year, both in terms of their multiple tents along the entire route (unfortunately I only saw their DJ booth/disco-ball bike in a stationery position on Saturday, but they do pedal it out on occasion), and in the sheer number of blue bikes out on the avenues. If Citi Bikes didn’t actually outnumber privately owned bicycles on the streets, they came pretty close.
Summer Streets continues on August 10 and 17, both Saturdays, from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and runs up Lafayette Street, Fourth Avenue, and Park Avenue from the Brooklyn Bridge to East 72nd Street.